I got my first “job” doing Dharma work in Kechara because of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche. It all began from a simple volunteering work in painting up statues in Kechara Paradise (KP) SS2 outlet which was the only Dharma outlet we had at that time. This was around 2002/03, I had just gotten back from being away in New Zealand for about half a year plus and needed to start looking for a full-time job when suddenly I got a called from Rinpoche who was on His way in a bus to Singapore. Rinpoche called me as if He had read my thoughts that instant and asked me what I was doing. Upon hearing my plans to find a job, Rinpoche asked what I thought if I got paid for painting statues in Kechara Paradise? Rinpoche said since I needed a job and Rinpoche needed people to help finish painting all the Buddha statues that were in KP, it was just perfect timing. I didn’t think it was appropriate to be paid by a “monk” for painting Buddhas, so I said No. Then Rinpoche persuaded saying if it wasn’t me, he was going to find another person, hire them to help anyway, so why not me?! Rinpoche was skilfully trying to get me to do Dharma work by giving me a “job” so I don’t need to look for one outside.
By painting/making/repairing Buddha statues/images, the benefit one gets with the right motivation is purification of bodily karmas which is anything associating with one’s body such as one’s health and life, and the collection of enormous amount of merits to sustain and obtain a good body, health and long life not just for this life but future lives. Wow, come to think of it, Rinpoche was already helping me purify my karma; perhaps preventing or delaying me from accidents that could cost my life since back in the beginning. Also it was Rinpoche who gave me the opportunity to learn how to paint Buddha statues in the first place (see Gratitude #1). Rinpoche had asked his assistant to teach me and another student to paint, to stick jewellery and semi-precious stones to beautify Buddha statues, and to insert mantras to consecrate them with holy objects.
You see back then Rinpoche himself was also struggling financially. Rinpoche was young and was travelling up and down from KL-Singapaore-KL because Rinpoche was studying to obtain a degree in Psychology in Singapore. We did not have Dharma centre yet, there was no Kechara House, all there is was KP SS2 and Rinpoche did not have a lot of resources, help or sponsors then. There were times Rinpoche himself was even struggling to pay His rent, yet Rinpoche still wanted to find a way to help “samsaric” people like me… to get me to do some kind of Dharma work to collect some kind of merit! I will always be grateful to Rinpoche, how compassionate He is in always trying to finds ways for me collect merits.
When Kechara House (KH), our very first Dharma centre started operations in 2004, I was as one of the first few who was officially employed under the organisation. Rinpoche had given me an opportunity to work in our very first media and publications department. It was just a tiny office at the back of the KH centre, but was a real big deal at that time cos we started from nothing. It was from there that our very first newsletter “No More Caves” was churned out. Irene Lim was part of this history, as she was asked by Rinpoche to head this project and was the main writer at that time. Rinpoche saw the huge potential this department and had always believe that for anything to grow, one has to start somewhere small, just like all 13 department in Kechara today. True enough, after our first issue, more people got involved. From here, Kechara Media and Publications eventually evolved in to books and to what Kechara Media and Publications is today with over 50 different titles both in English and Chinese as well as E-books. My point of telling you guys all this, is to show you that Rinpoche not only find ways for people to do Dharma, but Rinpoche works to benefit others in such a vast scale, from providing silly people like me a “job”, to envisioning and planning long term for a department to grow, to spread Dharma and to benefit millions. Such is the attainments of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche, His skilful means, His vast creativity, compassion that creates conducive conditions and environments to benefit others which is consistent from back then right up till today, hence the manifestation of Kechara Forest Retreat.
Rinpoche has basically been my sponsor right up till today, sponsoring my monthly “stipend” (salary in worldly terms) and no doubt I am not the only one Rinpoche sponsors. Rinpoche has even helped me with rental, subsidising RM500 a month for my rent for a year at one point, just to make sure I am okay so I can focus to do some Dharma work. Even up till today, where I am sitting and writing this, in my office called Manjushri Hill, which is on a beautiful hill in Kechara Forest Retreat, is all because of Rinpoche. I personally have not come across anyone who would care and do so much for someone unless they are your parents, even then some parents don’t even do this much. Whatever sponsorship Rinpoche receives, whatever that goes in to the Lama fund, a large percentage of it always goes to staff funds which Rinpoche has always had kept aside which is how Rinpoche consistently help us in ensuring all those who work for the Dharma is well taken care off. So when someone sponsors the Lama, know that your sponsorship goes to support, help and benefit the many in the Dharma full-time.
Truly the kindest person in the world is my Guru, who gives not only worldly security but also spiritual security – the Dharma. I know for a fact that without Rinpoche’s support and sponsorship, I definitely would not be here today doing any Dharma work what so ever. I would probably not have even met the Dharma or become a Buddhist. I am and will be forever grateful and indebted to Rinpoche for everything, and all this is so that I can collect some form of merits before leaving this earth! It is really so fortunate and a great blessing to have met Rinpoche, and if you have, you are fortunate and bless too, for it is like meeting a Bodhisattva of the 20th century, who ONLY wants to benefit you and the best for you. THANK YOU RINPOCHE for giving me this once in a lifetime chance to lead a meaningful life.